Even veteran classic rock fans used to frequent lineup changes were surprised when the Allman Brothers Band summarily ejected guitarist Dickey Betts just prior to their 2000 tour. After all, in addition to co-founding the band in 1969, Betts was a key component, writing and singing lead on signature tunes like "Blue Sky" and "Ramblin' Man" (their biggest hit) and smokin' up the frets with the epochal instrumentals "Jessica" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed."
Kicked to the curb by Gregg Allman for hazy charges whispered to be either drugs, booze or "musical stagnation" (which immediately brings to mind that pot-and-kettle analogy), Betts wasted little time getting his side project, Great Southern, back on track and two records, Let's Get Together and the all-acoustic The Collectors #1, have followed. A prime architect of the southern rock guitar sound, Betts's fluid jazz-inflected lines and laid-back picking have influenced scores of guitarists. He also played a major role in keeping the momentum of his former group going after the seemingly insurmountable loss of Duane Allman in 1971. Though any Betts material was pointedly left out of the recent Allman Brothers show at the Woodlands, expect those familiar warhorses with sprinklings of solo material at this show.
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Houston-based blues singer/guitarist Mark May, who spent last year with Great Southern but later left the band, will open the show with his group, the Agitators, to pump his new CD Doll Maker. Perhaps they'll even do "Place Your Betts," May's tribute to his former employer. Just don't expect Betts to introduce a tune called "Allman Joy."